Chief Court Reporter
A CHIVHU pastor has approached the High Court challenging court regulations that impose administrative fees to bring a claim to that court, with fees varying in accordance with the value of the claim.
In terms of the High Court Fees Regulations, published in S.I 106 of 2021 Pastor Abinel Mukaro, who is seeking to sue police for US$73 500 over the unlawful killing of his wife, was asked to pay $8 483.54 before the summons is issued and $10 266 for service of the summons, according to the calculations done by the registrar of the court.
He felt the charges levied on his claim was unfair and now wants that statutory instrument declared unconstitutional for allegedly infringing his right to equal benefit from the law and as well as his right of access to the courts.
Justice Munamato Mutevedzi this week heard the application in which Pastor Mukaro cited Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya.
Lawyers for all parties’ lawyers made their submissions and Justice Mutevedzi reserved judgment to a later date.
Arguing the matter for Pastor Mukaro, Mr Andrea Dracos of Honey and Blanckenberg told the court that the tax levied on his client’s claim hinders access to justice and discriminates between litigants issuing summons with claims not involving money and those with claims involving money.
But the Justice Ministry represented by Ms Tariro Musangwa from the AG’s Office argued that the charging of the tax is reasonable and justifiable and is meant to cover costs of court operations.
She submitted that the legal instrument which Pastor Mukaro seeks to nullify is constitutional and does not infringing any rights, as alleged.
It was also argued that the justice system caters sufficiently for people who cannot afford litigation fees by allowing them to approach the court on the basis of informa pauperis, which allows free legal processes.
Pastor Mukaro wants to sue police over the death of his wife Sharia Mukaro who died on September 11 2021 after she was allegedly severely assaulted by some police officers at Chivhu police station.
In this regard, he feels that requiring him to pay a percentage of the amount that he is claiming in a wrongful death action infringes and deprives him of his right to equal benefit of the law.
Further, the clergyman argues that the tax has the effect of shutting out poor litigants, like him, out of court and it makes justice a commodity that can only be accessed by those with deep pockets.